North America

Cool August restrains Arctic sea ice melt

Broken sea ice
Sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its yearly lowest extent on September 13, new data shows. (AAP)

Sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its yearly lowest extent on September 13, new data shows.

Arctic sea ice this northern summer dropped to its eighth lowest level on record, new data shows. That's far below average, but considerably above the record low set five years ago.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre said on September 13 sea ice in Arctic shrank to its smallest area of the season: 4.64 million square kilometres.

Data centre scientist Ted Scambos said the Arctic sea ice set a record for the smallest winter amount earlier this year and was close to 2012's record low levels through July. Then a cloudy and cooler than normal August kept melt to a minimum.

"Weather patterns in August saved the day," Scambos said.

The Arctic acts as a crucial refrigerator for Earth's climate, scientists say. A growing number of studies have linked Arctic sea ice decline to changes in the jet stream and some bouts of extreme weather.

"It's bound to have an impact on global climate," Scambos said.

This year's low is 1.58 million square kilometres below the 30-year average but it is also 1.25 million square kilometres above 2012's record low. The data centre uses satellite readings that go back to 1979.